Estamos en Guadalajara

I know we’ve said this before, but we are lucky! Yes, our Fes plans got scuttled, but we made it out of the U.S. after a month-long stay in sunny Florida.

Yesterday, we arrived in Guadalajara. We flew from Fort Lauderdale to Houston, where the plane was on time until 10 minutes to boarding and then … well, ya can’t fly with no crew. We saw CANCELED on one too many flights on the departure board and we were a tiny bit nervous. United said they were waiting for a crew and we chose to believe their really was one. And, there was! Clearly they are short-staffed because the poor gate agent was also acting as the wheelchair attendant, so boarding took a bit of time, but we arrived a mere 90-minutes late and breezed through immigration and customs.

The view from the gym. I dare say it’s a bit smoggy here, but nowhere close to Beijing.

(BTW: Everyone here wears a mask. Some people even wear them outdoors. There was no Covid protocol for entering Mexico, but we will have to get tested to get back into the U.S. Seems backwards to me since omicron is everywhere in the States, but what do I know?)

The only hiccup so far was the surprise on the immigration agents face when he asked (in Spanish) how long we would be here and I answered correctly in Spanish, 53 days. He obviously thought my Spanish was even worse than it really is. The same thing happened when I told the guard at the apartment building that we were staying until Feb. 25. He typed it into Google Translate and showed it to me to make sure I knew what I was saying (and looked even more surprised after she confirmed that it was correct).

So far, so good. We walked to the grocery store and got immediate supplies (coffee). The place itself is comfortable and I just got back from the gym on the 18th floor (our apartment is the 14th, so we have totally unobstructed view of the south part of the city and that big hill in Sue’s photo). Steven has been hard at work all day (of course). Not that I’m not working, but someone has to play housewife. Today, we bought some staple foods to have around and began to settle in.

Beer from Tomate Taquería

We are right at the edge of a popular bar and restaurant strip. We hit Tomate Taquería for dinner last night because it is only a few blocks away, but it was delicious! For Steven, there are huge spits of meat and for me, la especial vegetariana.

Luckily, we have a friend here (Kenta is fab!), which will ease the usual confusion over how to get a transportation card or where to find the best grocery store. All this happens within our first week in a new place and then it’s like we’re natives. Or natives who barely speak the language.

Speaking of language, I really need to up my Spanish game. I don’t understand why more people don’t speak English! Of course, they live in a huge country and it’s not like the EU, which uses English as a universal language. Maybe I will really learn Spanish!

The Joy(?) of Air Travel

Image result for united airline

For years I held a grudge against United Airlines because of an incident related to traveling with my then-preschool son. You have to give me credit because it’s not easy avoiding United when you live in Chicago. I mostly managed it, and then realized that none of the other airlines were any better.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to fly to Albany, NY, on somewhat short notice to a funeral. I didn’t want my now-postschool son to sit by himself during this trying time (once a mama bear, always a mama bear), so I paid for better seats so we could sit together and not be in the last row of the plane. Fine. My choice.

On the way back, we were sitting at the airport when we heard our flight called 45 minutes early. We hustled over to the gate to be told that the crew was thinking that maybe we could leave early since there were only nine people on the flight. Nine! So, I paid an extra $90 so that my son and I could sit together on an empty plane. I wasn’t pleased.

I emailed United customer service and got the very helpful reply that they would get back to me in 5-7 days. I will let you know what, if any, resolution there is.

Oh, and btw, we didn’t leave early. We just ended up sitting on the runway for an extra 45 minutes.

Hello London!

Well, thank you United for simultaneously getting us here on time and reminding me why I really don’t like flying the friendly skies. No power to juice my laptop, non-working earphone jack in the “entertainment” system (which I think is circa 1981 with channels for the different audio and continuously running movies–want to see the beginning of the film? Guess that start time), and unavailable personal electronics entertainment.  To add insult to injury, the coffee tasted burned and flavorless at the same time. Boy that cup of joe sunk below my meager expectations for airplane sustenance.

We img_20180530_161758074_hdrarrived at our AirBnB near St. John’s Wood without much distress and found that it is lovely, although the owner neglected to mention the 61 stairs we had to climb to get to it. My nephew promptly fell asleep, while I drank coffee, unpacked, showered, and found some very British telly to watch. A game show where you are given numbers and you have to do math calculations to end with a certain sum? Yeah, that would go over big in the States (I think it is called Countdown and the woman who used to do the math or as the Brits say maths, was Carol something or other).

Once Jake was awake and semi-conscious, we decided to head to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. Kind of a ripoff at 15 pounds a piece but fun to do since it was within walking distance. And I got a cool pic of me. Yes that’s me in the famous Sherlock Holmes hat that the amazing detective who never lived never wore.

Side note: Here’s a helpful hint if you are dragging your laptop with you: Make sure your converter is grounded. Mine wasn’t. Oops! We were passing a hardware store on our way to Baker Street, popped in, and got one for less than the prices I saw online. Plus, we met some friendly people.

For our first real meal here we had — surprise! — fish and chips at Hobson’s since it was on many best of lists and was close. A mile walk was about all we wanted.  I had matzo meal breading on plaice which I had never even heard of, but is firm, flat and moist; Jake had the classic battered cod. Both were delicious. I also ate mushy peas, because, well, funny British food. Plus, I had a soda called Fentiman’s Dandelion & Burdock. Don’t ask me what it really was, but it was pretty good if a bit sweet. The label was in English and Slovak, which we figured out with a little help from Google Translate. We finished the day with a walk just so we wouldn’t fall asleep to early. No time for jetlag.

All-in-all a good day, except that I wasn’t with Steven on his birthday. Happy birthday, Steven! (Thank you!  I am weeping into my COLD non-English beer because you are not here.)

img_20180530_185124010